The Canucks faced the top team in the Metropolitan Division while chasing the pack in the wild-card huntThe New York Islanders, who were supposed to be rebuilding this season, sit in first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Vancouver Canucks, who were also supposed to be rebuilding this season, sit in fifth in the Pacific Division and their playoff hopes are now officially on life support.But look at the bright side. Clearly, the Canucks understand the concept of rebuilding better than the Islanders.Here’s what else we learned from the Saturday night special between the ’82 Cup finalists, which ended with a 4-0 Islanders’ win, the last on an empty-netter by Cal Clutterbuck.
Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat, left, reaches for the puck as Nikolay Goldobin checks New York Islanders’ Jordan Eberle in the first.
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THE CANADIAN PRESS
Coach of the yearIslanders head coach Barry Trotz is the overwhelming favourite to win the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s coach of the year. But when asked about the Islanders’ success this season, Trotz pointed towards the team’s locker room — which, of course, is one of the reasons he’ll be the coach of the year.“I don’t think we’re working miracles,” Trotz said. “The young men in the room have gotten it done. We’ve given them a plan and some structure. Hopefully we’ve given them some confidence. But they follow the plan.”Trotz added his team has been playing with a chip on its shoulder since losing face-of-the-franchise John Tavares in free agency over the summer.“There’s more to the Islanders than just one man,” Trotz said.They certainly made believers out of the Canucks.Territorially, there wasn’t much to chose between the two sides, but from the moment Casey Cizikas wedged a rolling puck over Jacob Markstrom five minutes in, this one seemed like a foregone conclusion.The Islanders might be lacking star power in Tavares’s absence, but they have depth and quality throughout their lineup and play Trotz’s system fully and completely.
Goalie Jacob Markstrom stops a breakaway shot from New York Islanders’ Valtteri Filppula in the second period, but giving up two goals in the first had the Canucks chasing the game.
Gerry Kahrmann /
Cizikas, the fourth-line centre, has 17 goals on the season. That would place him fourth on the Canucks. On the Islanders, he’s one of eight players in double digits.Defenceman Ryan Pulock made it 2-0 later in the first when he blew a slapper past Markstrom off an extended delayed penalty. And from there, the Isles turned things over to their team game, goalie Robin Lehner and the whims of the hockey gods.In the second period, for example, the Canucks outshot the visitors 15-3 but had bupkes to show for it. They managed to hit two posts and have another bid cleared off the goal line by Isles defenceman Scott Mayfield.They also went 0-for-3 on the power play in the frame, including a 24-second five-on-three.“I thought that was our best power play sequence in a long time tonight for chances and getting guys towards the net,” Bo Horvat said. “We dumbed it down a little bit tonight and simplified it.”But the bottom line was the same.“Very frustrating,” Ben Hutton answered when asked about the mood in the Canucks’ room. “I thought the second period was very tilted in our favour. We’ve got to find a way to put pucks in the net if we’re going to make the playoffs.”Anthony Beauvillier iced the game with a goal early in the third, converting a three-way passing play with Josh Bailey and Valtteri Filppula, who comprise the Islanders’ third line. All three players have scored at least 12 goals this season.Lehner, meanwhile, stopped all 36 shots in recording his fourth shutout of the season.“They should be frustrated,” head coach Travis Green said of his troops. “Why wouldn’t they be? They played a pretty good hockey game and they lost.”
Ashton Sautner and Adam Gaudette (centre) chase New York Islanders’ Casey Cizikas in the second.
Gerry Kahrmann /
Injury news gets betterThe Canucks received some better news from the injury front when Alex Edler and Thatcher Demko practised with the team prior to Saturday night’s game. Neither suited up against the Islanders, but when asked if Edler might be ready for Monday night’s meeting with Anaheim, Green said: “I hope so.”“They’re closer than they were a week ago,” Green added.Nikolay Goldobin, meanwhile, made one of his periodic appearances in the Canucks’ lineup. Since dressing for the first 29 games of the season, Goldobin has been a healthy scratch nine times in the last 2 1/2 months.Still, if he’s discouraged by his situation, he does a good job of hiding it.“I don’t know about the future,” he said. “I’m just living day by day. I want to stay here. I love this place.”As things transpired, Goldobin was one of the Canucks’ more visible forwards. Playing on a line with Bo Horvat and Josh Leivo, he had three shots on goal in just under 20 minutes of ice time and was in the middle of a bunch of scoring chances, all of which ended in predictable fashion.“I thought it was one of Goldy’s better games this season,” Green said. “If he plays like that every night he’s a good player.”Ryan Spooner started the game playing with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser and ended the game stapled to the bench.
Vancouver Canucks defenceman Ben Hutton knocks New York’s Leo Komarov off his skates in the first period as the Islanders visit Rogers Arena Saturday night.
Gerry Kahrmann /
Slip sliding awayTen days ago, the Canucks sat in eighth place in the West. After recording three points in their last five outings, they’re suddenly five back of the eighth-place Avalanche with three other teams in front of them.“I thought we played really well,” said Jay Beagle. “It is the process and we have to stick with it. If you’re playing like that the wins are going to start to come. You have to believe that and you have to stay positive. But let it sting. It should sting.Deadline dead zoneThe Islanders and Canucks don’t figure to be overly busy on Monday’s trade deadline, but Trotz said it’s on players’ minds this time of the season.“For some players it’s a more nervous time,” the Islanders coach said. “There’s no question. The focus isn’t always on the game. It’s what’s happening around the league. We have to focus on our game.”Canucks defenceman Erik Gudbranson, who’s been the subject of quasi-trade rumours, said the deadline is like the fight club. The first rule is you don’t talk about the deadline.“It can happen,” Gudbranson said “It’s an option at any time of the year, but it’s one of those things you don’t really talk about.”email@example.com/willesonsportsNEXT GAME: MondayAnaheim Ducks at Vancouver Canucks7 p.m., Rogers Arena, TV: Sportsnet Pacific; Radio: Sportsnet 650 AMCLICK HERE to report a typo.Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email firstname.lastname@example.org